A hot topic of discussion in the Bitcoin community is the legality of Bitcoin gambling. Bitcoin has many uses in the gambling world, including playing poker, betting on sports, or playing on online casinos. Since Bitcoin is a virtual currency, legislation covering it is either unclear, or non-existent. This can make it it difficult for users to find the right information.
Users should make sure that there are no laws restricting online gambling in their jurisdiction. According to some members of the Bitcoin Forum who have researched the topic, it may be illegal to gamble Bitcoin online in some U.S. states. Some Bitcoin casinos have taken action to prevent players from the United States from accessing their websites, such as Satoshi Dice. Other casinos have decided to allow players from the USA to continue playing. It is illegal in many countries to gamble unless you are above the minimum age to gamble. The age requirement for gambling varies in the United States, based on the state, but it is usually between 18 and 21.
A large number of Bitcoin gambling companies operate overseas, in countries like Costa Rica. They claim that this allows them to take bets legally, as long as the players follow the laws of their own country.
Bitcoin remains a mostly unregulated virtual currency, at the moment. In many parts of the world, Bitcoin is not recognized as a financial instrument, or a form of currency. This can mean that existing laws pertaining to online gambling may not apply to Bitcoin. Additionally, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for regulators to control it. The peer-to-peer nature of the network prevents any transactions between players and casinos from being blocked, or restricted by governments. It can even be challenging to identify a user of a betting site, since addresses are not attached to bank accounts or personal data. In the criminal complaint against the owner of the illegal Silk Road marketplace, the FBI acknowledged that “Bitcoins are not illegal in and of themselves and have known legitimate uses.”
Furthermore, in a U.S. Senate hearing on Bitcoin which occurred in November, politicians confirmed that the cryptocurrency is in fact legal. However, the American government does not seem to have declared whether or not gambling with Bitcoin is lawful.
To be certain that online Bitcoin gambling is in fact legal in your country, you should contact your local authorities for more information. In the meantime, Bitcoin users all over the world can continue to gamble with BTC, unless there are laws restricting them from doing so.
Some players may run into legal problems when playing on Bitcoin casinos. Laws, especially those in the United States, can result in players or casino operators receiving fines. In 2003, Jeffrey Trauman from North Dakota was fined $500, after winning over $100,000 through online betting. It is pretty obvious that events like these are rare, and probably will not affect regular players.
Bitcoin gambling companies could be more likely to run into legal issues, but there have not been many instances where this has happened. The owners of a number of betting sites are anonymous, so they may not run into problems with the law, unless their identity is revealed.
In conclusion, if you truly want to make sure that your gambling activities are legal, you should consult a lawyer. None of this should be considered legal advice, especially since each state and country has its own gambling laws.